Police at scene as 350 'free Tommy Robinson' protesters gather outside Leeds Crown Court

Protesters have gathered outside Leeds Crown Court this afternoon.

Friday, 1st June 2018, 4:21 pm
Updated Friday, 1st June 2018, 5:37 pm

Police are on site outside the court building, keeping tabs on a group of about 350 protesters outside the court building.

Protesters are outside the court right now, waving flags.

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Members of the group have been spotted carrying a banner saying 'Stand with Tommy. Free Tommy now'.

One man was seen dressed as the Grim Reaper carrying a sign 'free speech is dead speech' and one report suggested a flare had been set off and a bottle thrown.

Reports suggest protesters stopped in the middle of the road at the junction of the Headrow and Vicar Lane at about 3.35pm, causing traffic to be stopped.

About six mounted officers are in place at the bottom of Oxford Row.

The event was organised by the group Proud British, which claims on Facebook that its purpose is to "voice freedom of speech" and "stop the strain on the NHS, schools and our public services".

The protest came a week after the right-wing activist's arrest for using social media to broadcast details of a trial which is subject to blanket reporting restrictions.

Leeds Crown Court heard how Robinson had filmed himself and people involved in the case, in footage that was watched around 250,000 times within hours of being posted on Facebook.

Robinson, who was listed by his real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon on court documents, was sentenced to 13 months in jail on the same day as his arrest.

He was given 10 months in jail for contempt of court, and an additional three months for beaching a previous suspended sentence.

Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told Robinson at the time: "Everyone understands the right to freedom of speech but there are responsibilities and obligations."

A reporting restriction had initially prevented the media from reporting his conviction, but this was lifted at the same court on Tuesday.

During Friday's demonstration, hoards of people were seen waving flags bearing the St George's Cross and handmade placards voicing support for Robinson.

One read "Stand with Tommy, free Tommy now," whilst another branded the police, government and justice system as "corrupt".

Protesters also called on members of the press to publish details of the case that Robinson, of Oakley Rise, Wilstead, Bedfordshire, had been filming, in line with "the principle of open justice".